Rewriting History

Owen Smith's father is a professor of history, and Owen himself should have some knowledge of the subject as his degree was in history and French. But sadly, he seems to have consigned it all to the dustbin and moved into the business of rewriting it instead.

On Thursday he told David Williamson of the Western Mail that,

"The Labour party championed the cause of devolution for over a century, and we delivered it for Wales and Scotland ... "

Wales Online, 21 March 2013

Who is he trying to fool? If you champion something, you would have taken steps to implement it when you were in a position to do so.

Did the Labour Party implement devolution when Ramsey Macdonald became Prime Minister in 1924 or in 1929? No. Did Clement Attlee's government implement it in 1945? No, and it refused to even contemplate having a Welsh Secretary and Welsh Office although Scotland had had both since 1885.

That wasn't rectified until Harold Wilson came to power in 1964. But if this counts as "delivering devolution" then Owen Smith would have to give the credit for delivering it to Scotland to Gladstone, rather than a Labour Party that didn't even exist at the time.

It was only when Gwynfor Evans won Carmarthen for Plaid in 1966 and Winnie Ewing won Hamilton for the SNP in 1967 that Labour began to take devolution seriously. Their response was to set up the Crowther/Kilbrandon Commission, which finally reported in 1973. Labour would have much preferred to leave devolution in the long grass, but the Wilson government of 1974 and Callaghan government of 1976 could only survive with support from other parties, and pressing forward with devolution to Scotland and Wales was part of the price for Plaid Cymru and SNP support. However process was sabotaged by Labour MPs at every step along the way, and the Wales and Scotland Acts of 1978 bore very little resemblance to what Kilbrandon had recommended. It was therefore hardly surprising that they didn't receive enough support in the referendums of 1979.

There was obviously no chance of Labour embracing devolution while Neil Kinnock was leader of the Labour Party (not that it matters, because there was no chance of Labour being elected while he was leader) and therefore it was only when John Smith became leader in 1992 that devolution for Wales and Scotland can be said to have become mainstream Labour policy.

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Anonymous said...

Surely it was the decades of lobbying from the Scottish that led to the Council of Europe forcing devolution onto the UK. If the Tories had won in 97 then they would have delivered devolution to us and not Labour.

Here's a good link - Realm of Scotland

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